Tag Archives: Montrose

Super Second Bordeaux Dinner

This past month, got together with a few friends to enjoy a night of Super Second Bordeaux. As luck would have it, there were numerous very nice wines, including a 1950 Pichon Baron. The final wine of a series of 1950’s tasted over the past year from one of our good friends, thought it better than the 1950 Margaux and 1950 Palmer previously tasted. The group was small, and pours large. Brief observations follow, sorted in order of personal preference:

Champagne Starter

Pol Roger Pure – A no dosage Champagne, thought it was an excellent wine. Bone dry, crisp, nice acidity, need to search this out for future tastings.

White Wine Starter

2001 Margaux Pavillon Blanc – Corked! Some folks thought it was not corked, but in our opinion had that tell tale wet cardboard nose and sapped palate. Disappointing.

Super Second Bordeaux Flight

1950 Pichon Baron – Opened early in the evening, the fruit was huge on this wine. Figured this wine would be either dry or perhaps oxidized with a top shoulder fill, was completely surprised how beautiful it was, big fruit, good firm tannin and acidity. Furthermore, it continued to hold up well over the span of the evening, never declining. An excellent wine.

1983 Pichon Lalande – Cannot recall ever tasted a better Pichon Lalande than this bottle of 1983, and that includes that 1982 vintage! No green or grassy quality we so often get from the producer, the wine was clean, elegent, balanced, dark fruit, simply beautiful!

1981 La Mission Haut Brion – Another excellent Bordeaux, refined and elegant, noted eucalyptus, earth, and leather. This was a beautiful wine, layered and subtle, kept giving more the longer it sat in the glass. Highly enjoyable and worth seeking out.

1970 Montrose – A nice wine with good underlying material, jammy, red fruit, thought it showed well initially. As it sat in the glass however, it slowly declined, never showing a great deal of complexity. After some table discussion, think the wine may have experienced a little heat.

1996 Leoville Poyferre – Another dark berry wine, it was in very tough company, overshadowed by all the other wines. Had had this wine before, and it was consistent in style, game meats and earth. A little more lean and higher acidity than expected.

A highly enjoyable evening with good food, friends, and wine!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

High End Burgundy Dinner

This past week, attended a very special Burgundy Dinner with friends at Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco. Part birthday dinner, part end of the year tasting that marked a year of enjoyable wine dinners, we all dug a little deeper than normal into our respective cellars for this special evening. Pictured are two examples, a gorgeous 1969 Leroy Echezeaux and 1969 Henry Lamarche La Grand Rue.

What was remarkable about this dinner, no flawed bottles! All were excellent drinking, profound wines that in and of themselves could have easily been the centerpiece of any fine wine dinner. Given the overall high quality, the preference of one wine over another is minimal at best. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. Brief observations of all wines opened follow.

Champagne Flight

1996 Krug – Youthful, very youthful! Crisp green apple, mild yeast, and sweet honey in time. Acidity was firm and present the full duration. The more it sat in the glass, the more it improved, never peaking. Have had this wine 4 or 5 times now, highly consistent, and really a wine that should be aged many more years before enjoying.

1996 Bollinger La Grande Annee – Sweeter than the Krug, bread dough, some acidity lurking underneath, and creamier. Picked up a hint of what I perceived to be oxidation, but it was subtle and perhaps had more to do with the Bollinger style than anything. The wine improved greatly as it sat in the glass, and paired well with the food. Normally not a big fan of Bollinger, this was a nice bottle.

Montrachet Flight

2004 Domaine Blain Gagnard Le Montrachet – Lemon cake, complex, tight, steely, and slow to open up. In time, picked up an interesting and appealing floral, mint quality. A stunning, exceptional wine that was incredibly slow to open up over the span of the evening. This is one of the wines I kept thinking about for a few days after the dinner, if offered up so much quality.

2004 Jadot Montrachet – Strikingly similar to the Gagnard initially, advanced quickly and became more full bodied and rounder. It was creamier with hints of vanilla and lime. This was likewise an excellent wine, though a far more mature Montrachet that will not likely improve with additional cellar aging. Enjoyed the wine a great deal, and it was fun to taste next to the Blaine Gagnard.

Burgundy Flight # 1

1969 Leroy Echezeaux – Game, earth, asian spice, barnyard, balanced, and excellent structure, this was another outstanding wine. The bottle was in near pristine condition. Interesting enough, had this wine last year, and it showed quite different. This years bottle did not show the brighter blue fruit, and thick dark color of last years, showed more elegant secondary characteristics that made for an extraordinary wine. My top wine of the evening, could taste it for days.

1969 Domaine Henry Lamarche La Grande Rue – Leather, dry, sweaty, earth and meat, was a lighter bodied elegant wine that initially had a funky nose, but blew off in time. Acidity was present, and subdued, did not pickup any signs of oxidation. Tasting this wine reminded me of a lesson learned many times over with burgs, don’t judge them too quickly, give them time in the glass and see where they go. In this case, a funky nose blew off and the result was a lovely aged delightful Burgundy!

Burgundy Flight # 2

1991 Vogue Bonnes Mares – Firm acidity, clean dark fruits, and very youthful. This was a big wine, that would benefit by years of additional cellar aging. Thought the Bonnes Mares showed a little more subtle characteristics right now over the Musigny.

1991 Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes – Jammy raspberry fruit, firm acid backbone, tart, and also youthful. Another wine that would be wise to cellar for years before enjoying. Of the two Vogue, the more age worthy, and in the long run, suspect the better made wine.

Burgundy Flight # 3

1990 DRC Grands Echezeaux – Ripe sweet cherry fruit, clean and pure, flashy, candied, menthol, thought it was a fantastic wine. Along with the 1969 Leroy Echezeaux, one of the top two wines of the evening. Was interesting to taste this after the 1991 flight and served as a distinct contrast, age worthy 91 vs ready to go 90.

1990 Jean Gros Richebourg -Dense, dark fruits, brooding, reminded me of the 1991 DRC Richebourg opened last year, but more powerful and concentrated. In time, noted some subtle components, barnyard, menthol, it became more open knit in time. A fantastic wine that will age very well, no rush to open.

Burgundy Flight # 4

1999 DRC Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet 1er – Red fruits, clean, ripe and easy drinking medium bodied wine. First time I have ever tasted a Premier Cru DRC, found it a very nice enjoyable wine. Would continue to age this as well, has a long way to go before it hits maturity.

2002 DRC Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet 1er – Barrel sample like initially, took a long time in the glass to open up, and when it did, noted some spice, cherry, and pomegranate. Best to age this wine for many years. Should have opened this flight prior to the Vogue to give it plenty of time to breathe.

Blind Bordeaux Flight

1989 Lynch Bages – Black tar, asphalt, smoke, black berry, a youthful and compelling wine. Have had this wine numerous times and it was beautiful. This wine was served double blind for the group, where it was easy to identify as Bordeaux, but tough to identify the year, it showed young. One of my personal favorite Lynch Bages.

1989 Montrose – Earthy, green and notable brett. Having had this bottle several times, and not perceiving any brett, was surprised to pick it up on this go around. Showed uncharacteristic in style from bottles tasted in the past. Like the Lynch Bages, was served double blind.

Guigal LaLa Flight

1994 Guigal La Landonne – Rich dark fruits, toasty, and meaty, had excellent balance and complexity. Thought this was the best wine of the flight, a lovely Guigal. It was at this flight I started to feel the effects of having no flawed bottles, and limited use of dump buckets.

1994 Guigal La Mouline – Elegant, clean, and earthy wine, picked up coffee, bitter chocolate and black cherry. Also, a very nice wine. Was still thinking about how fortunate we were to have no flawed bottles and wondered what was the ideal number of bottles a person at a wine dinner. We had 18 great bottles among 8 people.

1994 Guigal La Turque – Unapproachable, so youthful, could pickup almost nothing from this wine. Swirled and swirled the wine to no effect. Was a little surprised how barrel sample like this bottle tasted. Sadly, don’t think any amount of time was going to bring out the true qualities of the wine, it simply needs to rest in the cellar for a decade.

Massandra Ending

1932 Massandra Red Port – After all the wine we went through this evening, did not take notes on the Massandra. Recollect a fortified quality to the wine, medium body, palate coating. Was not disappointed. Have to admit a strong personal preference for a very aged Massandra to end a special dinner over nearly any other wine!

Cheers to my good friends from San Francisco for what was easily my wine dinner of the year. It combined all that makes for a fantastic evening, good food, good wine, and good friends!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Double Blind Bungalow 44 Wine Dinner

This past week, got together with friends at Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley for a Double Blind Wine Dinner. With the exception of the organizer, we knew it would be California and French wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically not a fan of blind or double blind dinners, this one turned out to be very well organized, interesting and educational. The discussion was fun, guessing the specific wines, years, and regions. In the course of the tasting, found it fascinating how different we each perceived the quality of one wine other another.

Brief notes follow of all wines opened. Within each flight, wines are sorted in order of personal preference, prior to reveal.

Flight 1 – Chardonnay

2005 Rochioli Rachael’s Vineyard – A lovely flinty, sulfur nose that immediately suggested it was a Burgundy A fat, full bodied, creamy sweet palate pointed to California. In the end, guessed it as a Burgundy. Rarely encounter this fantastic flinty nose on a California wine, and guessed our organizer might try to challenge us with a White Burg with California qualities. Thought it was a highly complex gorgeous wine.

2005 Remi Jobard Meursault Genevrieres – Leaner in style, lemon citrus, youthful and tart, a nice firm wine with a touch of cardboard and astringency, but improved considerably with time in the glass. It came across like a 2009 Ceritas Ritchie Chardonnay, a California producer wine made in a Burgundian style. Guessing from this point forward became far easier, went with original instincts!

Flight 2 – Pinot Noir

2003 Kistler Cuvee Catherine – Initially, it was very primary and youthful, it quickly came together. Dry raspberry fruit, in time becoming lightly candied, it kept putting on weight over time. The mouthfeel was full and coating, without being excessive. Overall, it was a highly age worthy and highly complex, the top wine of the flight.

1996 Maillard Corton Renards – At first, thought it was a rather simple wine with light blue fruits and not a lot else going on, with time in the glass however, made a complete turn around. Subtle sweet cake like and barnyard notes, intertwined with blue and black fruits made this highly interesting.

1997 Joseph Swan Trenton Estate Pentagon Reserve – Picked up more cherry fruit in this wine, more concentrated and ripe than the Corton Renards, also, more notable funk. This was a very interesting wine, and enjoyed it a great deal.

2003 Vincent Girardin Charmes Chambertin – Initially liked this wine, twigs and barnyard, easy drinking. In time, became funky, bretty, and vanilla, it seems to have lost the initial qualities that made it interesting. Do not think this one will age particularly well, my least favorite wine of the tasting.

Flight 3 – Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Lynch Bages – Dusty, Pichon Lalande like, highly age worthy and complex. This was my top wine of the flight and tasting, a complete Bordeaux that had everything in place. Have had this wine at least 5 or 6 times now, and find it highly consistent.

1989 Montrose – Gamey, foxy, earthy, young, sweaty, animal and exotic. Similar to the Lynch Bages, had this wine numerous times, and this specific example showed more youthful than previous times tasted. A fantastic wine, the second best wine of the tasting.

2001 Bond Melbury – Cherry liquor, bright, thick and full bodied, initially thought it was a Shafer Hillside, but then it took on some vanilla qualities, which I never associated with the Hillside Select. Definitely a wine to drink with a big steak, it was huge!

1992 Ridge Monte Bello – Chalky, aged, mineral, sweet, a little simple at first, nuanced and complex later. Really enjoyed this wine, and was more inclined to think it was a younger French wine over an older California. This flight as a whole showed better than the previous two.

Bonus Wines

1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet – A wonderful end of meal wine, black fruits, compact, complex, and balanced, had everything that reminded me why I love 1991 California Cabernet.

2009 Oro Puro Vineyards Late Harvest – Thought this was the best Oro Puro I have ever tasted. Bright peach, clean, full bodied, mouth coating, with wonderful balance. Think this will turn out to be one of their most age worthy wines!

Overall, this was a fantastic dinner, and like all good dinners, it ended in planning the next one, tentatively scheduled to be Rhone! Cheers to a great evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

All French Wine Dinner

This past weekend, got together with local friends in Sonoma to enjoy an all French wine dinner! In the case of this dinner, it was nice to revisit quite a few wines previously tasted to see how they are progressing. As is often the case with French wines, they are progressing slowly!

Wine flights were two bottles each. Find this to be an effective format, if for one reason alone, to hold over a flight into the next and only have 4 glasses on the table. Often times, we do flights of 3 wines, and 6 glasses can be challenging to keep straight!

All wines were served pop and pour, with the exception of the 2000 Bordeaux which were given about an hour decant. As with other tastings, sorted the wine in order of personal preference per flight. Brief observations of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon

Red Wine of the Night:
1996 Ducru Beaucaillou

Champagne Starter

2002 Cristal – Nutty, crisp, easy drinking with lemon and orange citrus. Somewhat light in body and certainly light in color, was rather disappointed in the wine. Enjoyed other Cristal Champagnes in the past so had high expectations that were not met in this wine.

Chablis

2002 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre – Oyster shell and floral with firm acidity and excellent minerality. The wine was full bodied and simply beautiful with a clean almost cool clean ocean breeze nose. A highly complex excellent drinking wine.

2001 Raveneau Butteaux – An interesting contrast to the 2002, was more lemon, pineapple, and nutty in style. Lighter bodied, it had a loamy texture and notable yeast. The acidity on this wine was well buried, and carried the wine well into the evening.

White Burgundy

2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon – Another great Domaine Leflaive. Petrol, sulfur, motor oil on the nose, became sweeter, almost cotton candy like on the palate. An absolutely gorgeous drinking wine that kept improving over the span of the evening.

2007 Coche Dury Meursault – The most “un-Coche” like Coche Meursault I have tasted, perhaps due to its youth. Restrained, very light sulfur, mineral, combined with lemon and caramel. Was far cleaner and laser precise in style than other years tasted. An excellent wine.

A Wine Intermission

1987 Chateau Montelena– Served blind, was grassy at first, had nice tannin, asian spice, anise, bell pepper, dusty stewed raspberry fruits and a deep dark ruby color that convinced almost everyone it was a mid to late 90’s wine. Having had the wine 6 or 7 times now, it was the most mature example tasted to date. No rush to open, has many more years to age and improve.

1998 Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes – Served for our friends who are not big fans of white wine, was intially light, but put on weight. Noted some light grass, blue fruits with a hint of cola. A clean wine, had nice acidity and a citrus finish. Really enjoyed this wine, but in tough company next to the 1987 Montelena.

1980’s Bordeaux

1989 Pichon Baron – Bacon, fatty, meaty, and raspberry fruits, the wine showed very tight at first, and put on considerable weight in time. A dense wine for sure, with a sweet caramel finish. Showed very well and drank young.

1986 Montrose – A notably aged wine, showed more forest floor, baked red and black fruits, and an appealing barnyard component. The wine was somewhat foxy in a good way, and showed a little rougher than other examples tasted of this wine.

1990’s Bordeaux

1996 Ducru Beaucaillou – The red wine of the night, it was simply outstanding with ripe red raspberry liquor fruit, with a dense full bodied mouthfeel and a long sweet finish. While it was both elegant and refined, was surprisingly ready to drink now. Overall, a wow wine!

1996 Lynch Bages – Far more structured and youthful drinking than the Ducru, was far more shutdown at this stage and more grassy with darker fruits, cigar, earth and an appealing minerality. Had a lovely mint note on the finish. A very good wine that needs additional cellar aging.

2000’s Bordeaux

2000 Pichon Baron – One of the most nuanced wines of the night, noted menthol and mint, chalk and leather, coffee and black berries, all over the place, but in a good way. Decanted the wine for about an hour, and proved to be very youthful. An excellent wine to continue aging.

2000 Calon Segur – Impossibly closed and shutdown, was unapproachable even after an hour plus decant, and additional time in the glass. Noted rhubarb and scorched earth in a wine that is just not ready to go. Cellar for many more years before opening.

Sauternes

1986 Rieussec – Waxy, orange rind, sweet honey, and butterscotch in an easy drinking end of meal wine. Would be an excellent wine to revisit in a few decades!

Cheers to an awesome evening!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/